Saturday, November 29, 2014

Vs. - Kerry Ryan (Anvil Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Vs.  Kerry Ryan.  Anvil Press.  Vancouver, British Columbia.  2010.  (Finalist for the Acorn-Plantos Award)

Kerry Ryan's Vs. is a book of narrative poems about her experiences in the cloistered world of boxing.

I have been a boxing fan since I was a very young man.  I've always loved the intensity.

If you watch much boxing at all you'll begin to notice the most remarkable thing.  Almost without exception, when a match is over, the two boxers hold each other like lovers.


Watch the twinned ridges
of gristle twitching
with every strained breath

Never look at gloves
or she'll get you like a pickpocket;
the left distracting with magic and jabs
while the right sneaks in, ransacks

Read next punch
in the shadow of clavicle

Don't let her eyes hook yours,
drown your resolve
in reedy undertow

Lock onto her heaving collar,
throw six inches north or south
look at her nose, chin,
only with the steady leather attention
of your unflinching fists


These poems do the leg work that all boxers must.  They are up before dawn and shadow-boxing the sunrise.  Ryan romanticizes nothing about the feel of leather on the nose as the fist behind it tries to dispose of your need or the bruised ribs that fight off sleep, dust your dreams.

Joyce Carol Oates wrote a great book in 1987 called On Boxing that received much acclaim and deserved attention.  Kerry Ryan's Vs. belongs on the same shelf, the same pantheon.

There aren't that many great boxing books by women and this is certainly the first poetry collection I've encountered that dares slip on the gloves.

Muhammed Ali is famous for his poetry and wit - but his poetry, as much as I admire the great man, is the child's nursery rhyme.  Ryan gives us so much more.


Hours after, her glove still pries
your ribs apart,
clenches lung, twists

You whimper in the bed,
wake with every breath,
shudder at the lapse
that left you prone
to the boulder of her right

Days later, clinic waiting room
each breath a thimbleful of air,
you press palms against ribcage,
try to contain the fury of a sneeze
ask when you can go
back in the ring


Ever had a cracked rib?  It hurts like every sin you've ever committed.

The "beautiful science" is not always beautiful but Kerry Ryan makes it real.  These poems look like an examination of a woman's journey into the gym and into the ring - but a jab is a jab, and a right-cross will flatten you, gender doesn't come into it, and Kerry Ryan is no dilettante.


We never fight
both youngest children
still wanting to please, appease
who learned early small never wins
that injury, injustice
fuel poems and pictures
our different victories

We never compete
except in Scrabble
or sleeping in Sunday mornings
the gap never
wider than five points
such satisfaction in symmetry

So when I demonstrate
a one-two on your shoulder--
soft as a sparrow landing
one foot then the other--
you startle at confrontation,
seep toward the door

I know I've upended our balance
don't want to bully,
but my fists have been taught
to feed on the fear
in your flailing palms


Ali's poems were wind-whisp entertainments, the vapour of the cult of celebrity.  Ryan's are the ongoing interior dialogue of a fighter, what it means to hit and be hit.

These poems go the distance with vigor.

Joe Frazier would be proud of her grit.

 Kerry Ryan

Kerry Ryan’s poems have appeared in literary journals across the country. Her first collection, The Sleeping Life, was published by The Muses’ Company in 2008 and nominated for the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry in 2009. In March 2009, she competed in, and won, a white collar boxing match. She lives in Winnipeg.

"Muhammed Ali, keep your guard up.  You're being measured by a better boxing poet.  Kerry Ryan has the clarity of vision that comes with a boxer's discipline and daring, the grace of a true poet's music of body and mind made one."
     Robert Kroetsch

"The poems in Kerry Ryan's Vs. come at you like quick jabs of light -- the writing is taut, worked over, sinewy, spare, and lean -- but never mean.  A delightful collection.  What else can be said?  These poems pack a punch."
     Jeanette Lynes


Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Gathering - Nelson Ball (Book Thug)

Today's book of poetry:
A Gathering.  Nelson Ball.  Book Thug.  Toronto, Ontario.  2014.

A Gathering is an elegy to the Canadian poet David W. Harris, better known as David UU.

Want some illumination in your life, a brighter clarity, open a book by Nelson Ball.  His poems are short sharp beacons of light.

Nelson Ball is the master of beautifully controlled restraint.

In the interests of full disclosure I need to tell you that I am a member of the Nelson Ball Fan Club.  I have never had the privilege of meeting the man but I am slowly building a small cache of his books. 

Ottawa poet and publisher of Apt.9 Press, Cameron Anstee, has a trove of Nelson Ball's work and as soon as I can figure out how to take it without his noticing, it will be mine.

Although Ball's poems are short, there is nothing slight about the impact.

May 23: Sunset

An edge of coolness
in the air



less noisy.


did not stay

for this day's


I want
to tell him

what he
is missing


Book Thug, the Toronto small press that published this handsome chapbook, continues to push open the gates of resistance to new poetry.  It would seem they have a mandate to publish the most original and adventurous poetry in Canada.

Nelson Ball is that sort of magician, you could swear there were more words on the page when you have finished reading.  How could so little impart so much?

A Final Question

Was the light dazzling
near noon, May 23rd

expanding cracks
between the boards

melding with the white
light of approaching death

before you dimmed
to blackness

in the shed's
dark interior?


There is a tenderness in these poems but it does not diminish or salve the terrible sense of loss with the death of a friend.

Ball doesn't gloss over his dear friend David UU's suicide but instead treats his fallen comrade with respect, love and controlled grief.  This is sad glamour indeed.

Ingrid On The Phone

Ingrid on the phone says that David is dead.
She is crying.

I can't believe it.
Was it an accident?

She says no.
He locked himself in the shed with the car running.


This tiny volume is a limited edition reprinting of the original Rubblestone Press edition from 2003.

I hope David UU would be pleased.

Nelson Ball

Nelson Ball is a poet and bookseller living in Paris, Ontario. He has worked as a labourer, chauffeur, clerk, seasonal forest ranger, record store clerk and janitor. From 1965 to 1973 he ran the legendary Weed/Flower Press, publishing mimeo editions of early books by Victor Coleman, Carol Bergé, David McFadden, David UU, bill bissett, bpNichol and many others. Ball edited a new edition of Nichol's Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer, published by Coach House in 2004. He is the author of 30 poetry books and chapbooks.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Easy Fix - Blair Trewartha (Palimpsest Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Easy Fix.  Blair Trewartha.  Palimpsest Press.  Windsor, Ontario.  2014.

Easy Fix reads like a video of a major league baseball batting champion at batting practice.

Ka-Pow!  Another one out of the park.

Time Lapse of a City

Across the city someone wraps
a lit apartment around their shoulders,
reads a book until
the last word is sleep.

A doctor grips the steering wheel,
pulls a scalpel front beneath the seat
and prays for the next red light,
a sudden traffic jam.

An engineer spreads his wings
and jumps. Telemarketers still
dial their Mothers' numbers
at the start of every shift.

Somewhere a man forgets
his address at Starbucks
and sits for hours, body
pressed up to the window
until he's baptized.

Somewhere loud music hits
and the city becomes a flock of pigeons,
cooing. An entire world
with its ducks
in a row. Feathers brushing
against feathers for warmth.


I had the pleasure of reading and writing about Trewarthas' chapbook Porcupine Burning from the impeccable Baseline Press.  You can see that here:

That was a chapbook that raised expectations.  Easy Fix exceeds all expectations.

As usual, I trundled off to bed last night with a pile of poetry to read.  First poem I read - I started swearing in kind of a hushed awe, one of those muttered "Oh what the f**k"s.  I know, I'm vulgar at bedtime.  The second poem had me exclaim, rather loudly, "Damn it!"

By now I was interrupting my wife's quiet reading.  She was deep into Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath.  She knows I only swear at the very worst poetry - or the very best.  She could tell from my muttering that I had stumbled onto gold.

The Darkest Day of the Year

For a split second, the snow
is a glacial overhang,
a frozen levy ready to melt
the moment I step indoors.

I picture myself swinging
from a web of hydro wires
in a snowsuit: crashing
through windows and slapping

husbands, kissing their wives.
Lighting my blowtorch
in their bedrooms to bring spring.
Everyone cheering for the man on fire.


Trewartha doesn't adorn his poetry with baubles, he is a straight ahead, straight-out no-holds-barred assassin of good poetry.  I loved this book and threatened to dismiss any intern who didn't.  I'm a tyrant.

It all happens so seamlessly, effortlessly, and with such little fuss but the resulting poems hit like beautiful sledgehammers.

Procedures for Escape

The train hovers along the track
between Oshawa and Belleville
and I sit in seat 14
in the aisle across from the emergency window
with a little red hammer
in a small gray box--
the one which every kid, including me
would give up their seat
just to smash

The attendant explains the procedures of escape
to the family of five sitting ahead of me
She's a cute brunette with high cheekbones
and low lips and probably close to my age
and she asks me if in the event of an emergency
would I be willing to climb out the window with her first
and help her assist all the woman and children off the train

I tell her yes, and stare back out the window
at the blurred trees and old telephone wires
listening to the sounds the train wheels make
across the rails
which always sound a bit like thunder
or a steel mill in a full work-day swing
and I imagine the two of us, hand in hand
leaping out the shattered window
looking like two children jumping off a small cliff
into blue water on a sun-blind afternoon
using our fear of heights
as a meager excuse to hold hands

I look back at the tiny red hammer
in the little gray box
displayed like a javelin
and repeat her question over again in my head
thinking, yes I'm willing to do that
you're just the first person
to have asked


If I were giving out any prizes today Trewartha would be the first in line.  This is poetry you want to see more of.

Excellent, simply excellent.

Blair Trewartha

Blair Trewartha is a Toronto-based poet whose work has appeared in Carousel, Prism, CV2, Event, Existere, and Qwerty. His first full length collection, Easy Fix is published this fall with Palimpsest Press. He has published 2 chapbooks, Break In, (Cactus Press in 2010) and Porcupine Burning (Baseline Press 2012). Formerly co-host of the Toronto reading series, The Vagabond Trust, and a co-editor of Misunderstandings Magazine, he currently lives in Sudbury.

"Released from the myth of historical telos, these poems dare to articulate the idiosyncratic tics and mercurial oscillations of our present moment."
     Chris Hutchison

"Trewartha's poems are encounters with both recklessness and stoicism...steeped in the urban and rural histories of a poet aware of the gamble of love, and the lucid dreams.
     Nyla Matuk


Saturday, November 22, 2014

As if - E.D. Blodgett - University of Alberta Press

Today's book of poetry:
As if.  E.D. Blodgett.  The University of Alberta Press.  Robert Kroetsch Series.  Edmonton, Alberta.  2014.

E.D. Blodgett's As if is not the water I usually tread.  I will call his formalism precision and you should too.

Blodgett is a stone-cutter of the highest order.  Whatever gemstone it is he starts with is impeccably tailored until only the finest facets endure.  These are jewels.


how can music tell
the edge where silence ends

a colour that appears
of a sudden at

the corners of your eye
as one might pluck a string

in darkness and a sun
of music might spring up

the echo of it all
along horizons of

every living thing
rains and tree and air

whatever they are
they sing themselves in one

I am of colours that
no one can recall

and music fades into
a second silence more

profound than what had come
before without the pitch

of music that might say
what silence had been


Surprisingly, the most frequent question asked about this blog is whether or not I copy the poems from some on-line source or actually type each and every one of them out from the book.  It is the latter.  I like to think of it in the same way that old painters used to have apprentices paint copies (usually in a slightly different size) so that they could learn the Masters' strokes.

And although it may not have improved my own poetry it certainly helps me get inside the poems in a way I can't access by simply reading them.

Mr. Blodgett's poems are a perfect example of that.  To read them is a joy.  To type them out word for word is a lesson.


so the stars are
so stubborn through the night

turning through the space
of dark eternities

and right before your eyes
where all the world that you

can see moves past
the window where you sit

reach out and you can touch
the whole of night and stars

if you were blind you would
possess knowledge there

beneath your fingers stars
and where they have come from


As if is a sequence of connected poems where one poem is the preface for the next.  This seamless incantation breathes clarity.

As if reads like a cherished book of prayer until you are inside the poems and a willing participant in the conversation.

This is what happens when a masterful poet in full-bloom has honed his craft.  Perhaps it is not perfect but it certainly quietly grand, humbly majestic.


were we born for this
we were born to be amazed

to gaze forever toward
beauty that cannot

be fathomed standing in
barely visible

veils of morning mists
upon its highest height

the sun careful in
its matutinal awe

almost turning away
ashamed almost to reveal


Matutinal.  I had to look it up.  It means "of or occurring in the morning".  I love learning new words.

Blodgett is one of Canada's great poets.  If he has somehow managed to fly below your radar you can fix that by reading As if. 

Today's book of poetry is proud to write about Mr. Blodgett.

E.D. Blodgett


E.D. Blodgett, F.R.S.C. and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, taught at the University of Alberta for 34 years. Having contributed to a number of journals both here and abroad, he has also written and edited a number of books on aspects of the Canadian Literatures. He has published more than 22 books of poetry. Apostrophes: Woman at a Piano (Ottawa: BuschekBooks, 1996) was given the Governor General’s Award and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry. Two collections were awarded the Stephan G. Stephansson Poetry Award by the Writers Guild of Alberta. The University of Alberta Press has published six of his books of poetry: Apostrophes II: through you I, Apostrophes IV: speaking you is holiness, Apostrophes VI: open the grass, An Ark of Koans, Elegy, and Apostrophes VII: Sleep, You, a Tree. He has also published a renga with Jacques Brault, entitled Transfiguration (BuschekBooks and Editions de Noroît, 1998), which was given the Governor General’s Award for Translation. From 2007 to 2009 he was Edmonton's Poet Laureate. He lives in South Surrey, British Columbia and is married with four children and five grandchildren.

E.D. Blodgett
Reading at the Editor's Association of Canada


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hustle - David Tomas Martinez - (Sarabande Books)

Today's book of poetry:
Hustle.  David Tomas Martinez.  Sarabande Books.  Louisville, Kentucky.  2014.

"Calaveras" is a long poem in eleven parts and I've chosen the very first poem of the sequence.  It could just as easily been any of them.

David Tomas Martinez makes it look easy.  These poems are unadorned and bursting with beauty.



A car wants to be stolen,
as the night desires to be revved,

will leave a door unlocked,
a key in the wheel well

or designedly dropped from a visor.

A window will always wink,
to be broken by bits of spark plug
or jimmied down the glass.

This is mine.
Where is the window to break
in your life?

In a backyard off the 94, I demonstrate on the moon
how a dent pulled ignition and a toothbrush for a turned key
easily swoon the inner workings of a Ford.

Push the dent puller in,
turn the triangle, burrow the screw,
and metallic light falls in twirled shavings.

Before I snap the weight I say
nobody gets caught with this,

not because this is a felony,
we speak of prison inevitably,
as likely as sweeps and raids,

as common as falling.
Prison, for us,
taxes and deaths.

Nobody gets caught with this
because I took it from my grandfather's tools.


To shoot someone we needed a gun;
Albert said he could get a pistol but we needed a car.

That's how, at midnight, on a Tuesday,
we strolled down the street with a dent puller

trying to murder a man.

Not wanting to steal a car
from our neighborhood,

we take alleys we shouldn't,
until cops chase us across
eight lanes of freeway and backyards.

To get away, I ran in a canyon
and a field of cactus.

The needles ripped my clothes,
left spiked fruit behind my knee;

with a knife wet under a garden hose,
I cut away skin and spines.

With arms around my boys' shoulders
we walk home, but only I see god.

It was the Lord from his La Jollan gates,
the big white man in the sky hollered at me.

In pale distance and omniscient beard,
in sky clouded with open azure:

No murder this night for you,
nor any night for you,

only a hot bath and plate of papas fritas
from a grandmother's hands

and four hours of needles
shooting from the skin

and holding the faucet like a gun.


I am immediately drawn to poetry of this sort.  It is from the streets and the heart and there is no artifice.  Martinez writes intricate poetry that rattles off of the page and tongue with inspired elan, but it is never cliche or tired.


In the wood shed
I found my uncle's magazines.

Snooping out of boredom,
looking for a wrench
to loosen a question in my body,

I flipped along glossy women
in kitchens without sinks
and refrigerators without food,
where bored housewives released
frustrations by
fucking the plumber,

where gardeners were pulled into pool houses
by college freshmen, their pig tails
doing most of the raking;
I saw women and horses
and women and circles of men
and women and women.

There seemed to be no shortage of women.

Being eleven with the drain pulled
on my wondered lust, my eyes
began to see sex everywhere,

in the plunging of stopped toilets,
in gas tanks being filled, in the pool halls
where my father circled his cue.

How the world moaned and pumped,
and hope flashed fluorescently through the blinds.

I lost my virginity three years later
to a girl without a name,
a neighbor in my curiosity about the body.

Before we did it, she said,
I don't make sounds during sex
and she didn't, just waited blankly,
waited to have emotion scribbled on her.

Eventually, love marked me
with a woman who walked with tumultuous hips--
she made bathrooms and classrooms more exciting,

and proved old Walt right -- the body does
electric -- when a kiss jumps the body --

as love is the leap of moment suspended
between jumping and landing, learning
and knowing, quitting and starting again

and it hurts more than just in skin,
to walk because your walked away from,
and no hurt scatters, no love vanishes,
and no sorrow dissipates or forgives,
and no words can be eaten.
Nothing can be eaten.

And her climbing up a balcony on the second
floor to break in through the sliding glass door
to leave, on a puffed pillow, music she made for you

wont screw back together what was shed.
No one wants to leave the comfort of wood,
or finally say goodnight.  I wish the world
had left me cuddled with boxes and magazines,

with boxed wine and videos of Vegas.
Can another cigarette break keep
the shell of sleep from cracking,

stay the flashes of her bent under another man?
Wondering if she is across the country, or the street,
how can I stop her monuments, not hear her again?


Whoosh, good lord, Martinez is good.  These poems have weight, great substance, but they are never too heavy or overbearing.

Think of the best of old Tom Waits ballads like Romeo is Bleeding.  If you knew me you'd know that in our home and around the Today's book of poetry office that Tom Waits is a deity of the highest order.  He's always been a crazy mad priest poet of popular music.  So when I tell you Martinez is worthy of Tom Waits' praise please pay attention.


The orange coveralls flamed around me in one-size-fits-all,
and no matter how I stood, they slouched and bent me.

In the shipyard there were no mirrors
but in the ocean's reflection or the pools in the dry docks
I could see how the leathers covered my boney clavicle
and my arms were only as wide as my torch.

I interviewed in a flower-spattered rayon,
but was hired because my uncle was foreman.

In training, I met Lucy.

Straightening out the crooked cuts in my bulkheads
she showed me how an orange stream pours off a perfect bevel.

Once in the bilges, I asked what brought her
to the bottom of this boat, measuring and cutting walls.

Pulling off her suede glove,

wiping sweat and ash away,
on her hand shone a green 13.

Secretaries don't have tattoos,
muffled through her respirator.

And by lunch,
we were burnt by sparks,
by three we sneezed black,

but the foreman flirted with her
using the last banging mallets
to get close and whisper.

Wrenching hoses
from our torches,
on our neck, metallic dust
ignited in the sun.

The top half
of her coveralls,
unbuttoned and wrapped,
slowly melted down
as the whistles blew.

After training,
I worked on frigates,
she worked on tankers,

I walked by her worksite
and Lucy'd be cutting
a tanker's wall,

golden ashes
dropping from
a chariot
of rusted pipe
and planks.

Looking up
shaking the wind,

shaking a hole
in my coveralls,

from ankle to knee gone,
the thin blue cloth gone;

I watched Lucy rise.


Hustle by David Tomas Martinez announces with authority the arrival of a dynamic new voice in American poetry.

David Tomas Martinez

David Tomas Martinez has published in San Diego Writer's Ink, Charlotte Journal, Poetry International, and been featured in Border Voices. A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Houston, Martinez is also an editor for Gulf Coast.

"David Martinez is like an algebra problem invented by America — he's polynomial, and fractioned, full of identity variables and unsolved narrative coefficients. How does it all go together? And what does it add up to? The speaker in Hustle roams the kingdoms of experience, from stealing cars to explaining post-colonialism to his Mexican grandfather, from celebrating sex to wondering about the crippling mixture of strength and weakness in the men around him. Martinez's poetic voice sings story, talks wisdom, and verbally switches between the sophistications of the academy and those of slang. Out of these trespassings and travels, he makes an original, wise, and tender poetry. Hustle is full of dashing nerve, linguistic flair, and unfakeable heart."
—Tony Hoagland

"Welcome to the world of David Tomas Martinez, where cars want to be stolen and the faucet is held like a gun, and homemade tattoos thicken with age. He breathes fresh air into American poetry by bringing it to the street—away from the Ivory Tower, away from the self-referential jokes and commentary. Martinez allows us to see Neruda's love songs again, but this time they "whoop / a motherfucker's ass." And he makes up his own vocabulary here, one in which the word "weekend" comes from word "weaken," long estranged from "wedded." Open this book on the poems like "Sabbath Fe Minus" or "California Penal Code 266," or "Coveralls," and you will see right away a tone that is restless, metaphors that thrill you, and music that is so contagious it just won't let you be. That is because David Tomas Martinez is a real poet."
—Ilya Kaminsky

"In these intricate, psychologically rich poems, David Tomas Martinez looks back on a harrowing youth in a rough part of town, at one point concluding, "as a boy, I died into silent manhood." Here, the shooting of a school acquaintance becomes an opportunity for a kaleidoscopic investigation of violence, mortality, and doomed youth. Or the ruined landscape of a concrete urban park provokes a meditation on the sadness that smolders just beneath youthful bravado. Elsewhere, the intricacies of family lore mix with the half-understood yearnings of a young man eager to make his name outside of the neighborhood. From maturity, these poems look to the past with resigned brilliance, finding in recollection not just self-knowledge, but a larger truth about the inescapable power of memory and experience to shape us. Hustle is a terrific, electric first book or poems."
—Kevin Prufer

David Tomas Martinez
Border voices 17, part 3


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blind Items - Dina Del Bucchia (Insomniac Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Blind Items.  Dina Del Bucchia.  Insomniac Press.  London, Ontario.  2014

These wildly funny poems will alter the way you look at celebrity for ever.  Dina Del Bucchia is a carnival freak amalgam of Anias Nin, Erica Jong and Dorothy Parker.

These poems are witty, highly sexualized and just a little bit bitchy.  I could listen to Bucchia talk all day long.

Lindsay Lohan

I am fucking Lindsay Lohan in the back of a pickup
truck, on an old sleeping bag printed with bass jumping
out of the water, hooks in their mouths. She is so
Hollywood she doesn’t even understand how real this
is, wants me to use my wrong hand, keeps telling me to
move my arm into the light, wants the shot to be perfect
on the first take. But it’s 2 a.m. behind the Walmart,
and I don’t know where my bra is. All we’ve managed
to do today is make out, shed our clothes, and split a
microwave burrito. She keeps giving me advice on how
to best show off her crotch in the scene, that a movie
crotch shot is so very different from a paparazzi up-skirt.
Both are choreographed but have different techniques.
She moves like a new kitten, brushes against my breasts.
I can’t ignore her. She whispers in my ear that cocaine
is almost always free, that mustard brings out her
freckles, that touching another person is like stepping
on a scale, that if you smell cinnamon, there is probably
a baby being born. I’m taken in. Between the folds of a
sleeping bag older than she is, she’s chosen me. When I
go to put my mouth around her nipple, she stops me;
my shoulder will be in the way of the shot. We glow in
the heavy lights of the parking lot


Imagination is a wonderful thing.  From now on I'm going to imagine that the wickedly hilarious and darkly comic Del Bucchia is my buddy.  Why?  This woman got game.

I passed this book around the office and everyone laughed, snickered, bickered, and now they are taking turns reading them, the poems, out loud.

Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson isolates stakes, produces, is adept
at turning words into phrases that turn women
into moulds of other women.

I don't want to become anyone else. Well, maybe
Anjelica Houston, just for a few months in the '70s.
To wear my hair like a shield

against regret, the quiet torture of never being
on top. To hear his secrets before he became
a voice to imitate. A woman's sadness makes him run.

When we meet, we kiss, share a few hours of afternoon
sun on our skin. I keep my hair up, keep him up
with small licks and slaps,

crease my body into his, so I feel
small, supermodel tiny. Afterwards, I weep, spray tears,
use his Lakers jacket as a tissue. A good fake cry.

Flustered and pink with stress, he flees.
If I kept a scorecard,
I'd check a box beside"Legend".


Dina Del Bucchia makes her dreams read like photo-op poems, sparkling, witty and immediate.

But let us not forget that these are all smart "hypermodern" confessional poems of the first flight.

Reading these poems there is so much amusement in play you don't realize how heavy fame can be. How dark those corners of the mind can get.  Good thing we have Bucchia for illumination.

Kate Moss

Kate Moss wants me to understand her. Some call her
reptilian. The description misses the point of her sharp-
ness, edge of nose, creases that spank her eyes. She isn't
glossy, likes to be rubbed raw. Together, lounging in the
sway of the sea, perched on sailboat corners, we are
lizards, we are flamingos, we are Bengals. Our hands
touch and slip away, mouths form silent words only
when they meet. We read lips through lips. We lay each
other to waste in our sunlight flashbulb lust. Makeup
smeared against our navels, thighs, under sides of arms, our
bodies mutated in colour. Breasts greet and swing away.
Below our bodies, the wooden deck is streaked with
pinks, blues, greens, pools of colour made of cosmetics
and ocean spray. I want to shrink to the size of the bright
mole near her nipple. She wants me to pull love out of
her, for us to wear each other, skin for skin.


Everyone in our office is now in love with Dina Del Bucchia.  Literary lust at least.

These poems are just like Rice Krispies, they snap, crackle and pop.

Dina Del Bucchia
(photo:  Ruth Skinner)

Dina Del Bucchia writes, and does many other things, in Vancouver. Her short story “Under the ‘I’” was a finalist for the 2012 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her previous poetry collection is Coping with Emotions and Otters (Talonbooks, 2013). 

"In Blind Items, Dina Del Bucchia reverse-engineers the public persona of celebrities to reveal the mouth like ‘hospital Jell-O, perfect in a place full of despair.’ [...] These poems will pick you up on Page Six and leave you gasping at the side of the highway, filthy, sweaty, and breathless."
     — Nikki Reimer, author of DOWNVERSE and [sic]
"Del Bucchia deftly dodges revealing her sources and leaves the reader in the morning groping after whatever it is that poems should do in the wake of such humorous, intimate, and intelligent company. Blind Items is a must-read for understanding the impact of celebrity culture on how we relate to each of our others (or otters)."
     — Jason Christie, author of Unknown Actor and i-ROBOT


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Otherwise, My Life Is Ordinary - Bobby Byrd (Cinco Puntos Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Otherwise, My Life Is Ordinary.  Bobby Byrd.  Cinco Puntos Press.  El Paso, Texas.  2014.

Bobby Byrd's Otherwise, My Life Is Ordinary is a big book and it is packed.  Byrd starts us off with a very amusing and informative personal essay outlining his life and practice of poetics.

It sounds a lot like he is a mischief making Buddhist with a taste for wine, a good pot of beans and always a good story to tell.

Back Roads To Far Towns

I wish old Basho would come to my house.
Especially when it's winter, a paltry desert winter,
Warm enough this evening to sit outside in the city night
Huddled up in a warm jacket and a good hat
The trees bare-boned,
Old men, Basho and me--
We will drink some red wine
A bottle of the $7.49 merlot from the 7/11
The one with the yellow kangaroo
And we'll swap stories.
Like that one about the frog jumping into the pond.
What's the story behind that, huh?
Or maybe he'll want to know,
What's it like to be pissing in the backyard with my two sons
The full moon like a Chinese coin.
We'll sit there on our sorry asses
At the beauty of a dying cockroach
We'll write a few poems
Three-liner thingamabobs
Old-man fingers
Useless 3x5 index cards
I'll lose somewhere
Why not?
The gate swings open and shut
Open and shut
The cockroach is the gatekeeper
Basho and me
We will empty that bottle of wine

     "Enough," he says, "is always exactly enough."

"That's a good one," I say, and we giggle
And the big bright moon
Dodges back and forth behind the clouds.


Otherwise, My Life Is Ordinary is anything but ordinary.  It is not ordinary to write this close to the surface of the earth, to be this grounded.  These poems lack all guile or artifice, instead they overflow with a vitality to be envied.

A Sonnet For Love

Flossie put her plums in the icebox.
Bill ate a plum and wrote a famous poem.
I tried the same trick on my wife.
Turns out she doesn't like cold fruit.
That's what she said.
She turned over and went to sleep.
That was afterwards.
I got up twice in the night to pee.
At 5am she let the cat in and fed him.
When she climbed back into bed she farted.
We giggled and went back to sleep.
After a while she let the cat back out and made coffee.
Sometimes I do all that stuff but it's so nice when she does it.
This poem, like all of my poems, is for sale.


In Byrd's "ordinary life" there are short sledgehammer poems and long rambling John Steinbeck Tortilla Flats monologues.  Byrd is political, practical and never, ever precious.

Not sure I've ever read a book of poems where I felt a clearer portrait of the poet emerge.  This is a poet I want to share wine and stories with.  These poems reflect a rich life well lived, full of music and family.  Byrd states his priorities so clearly I think I could pick him out of a crowd.

These are fine poems on a very human scale.

Imperialism In The 21st Century: The Bush Years

George Bush flew to Pakistan.
They hated George Bush in Pakistan.
With good reason.
George carries his bible like an AK-47.
The Muslims carry the Koran the same way.
It was them against us, us against them.
But Mohammed
He paid George no never-mind.
The prophet fed the president bitter pomegranates.
The president refused.
He didn't want his lips purple with the juices.
Lee changed the channel.
Kathryn Hepburn was pulling leeches off poor Humphrey Bogart.
The African Queen was lost in the swamps and the reeds.
Life always happens like this. There is no story without trouble.
Kathryn Hepburn was undaunted.
Humphrey Bogart was in love.
The Germans, like the American Empire, didn't stand a chance.


Today's book of poetry loved the weight of these poems because they hold the right amount of humour, the sufficient stroke of gravitas -- but Byrd never takes anything too seriously, it is all serious mirth.

Growing Up In Memphis, #3

In 1952 Dewey Phillips invented Elvis.
It happened on the radio.
Rock n' Roll saved my life.
In 1960 the bad guys sold Elvis into slavery.
Don't let anybody tell you different.


Bobby Byrd

Bobby Byrd—poet, essayist and publisher—grew up in Memphis, Tennessee during the golden age of that city’s music. In 1963 he went to Tucson where he attended the University of Arizona. Since then he has lived in the American Southwest. In 1978 he and his wife—novelist Lee Merrill Byrd—moved to El Paso, Texas with their three children. The city and the border region has become their home.

Bobby Byrd, the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the NEA, a D.H. Lawrence fellowship, and an international fellowship to study in Mexico, is one of the most accessible poets writing today. His work is compassionate, tender & joyful. He is the author of numerous books of poetry including Pomegranates, Get Some Fuses for the House, On the Transmigration of Souls in El Paso, The Price of Doing Business in Mexico, White Panties, Dead Friends & Other Bits & Pieces of Love and his most recent, Otherwise My Life is Ordinary.

"Byrd writes poems like a novelist.  Epic ones.  His lines are full of fiction, bullshit and beauty."
      Eileen Myles - poet, performer, novelist and essayist

"Bobby Byrd has wrought a singular music over the years made of memory, love, place and a kind of bluesy Zen.  I love this book.  It's a hymnal to life."
     Luis Alberto Urrea - author of The Hummingbird's Daughter"

"Bobby Byrd's poems have that rare ability to make profound the ordinary rituals and events of everyday life.  His hand-carved stories twist our hearts and make us remember ourselves."
     Tom Russell - singer/songwriter

Bobby Byrd, poet, publisher.


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Seasons - Bruce Meyer (The Porcupine's Quill)

Today's book of poetry:
The Seasons.  Bruce Meyer.  The Porcupine's Quill.  Erin, Ontario.  2014.


Deep, deep respect.

The Seasons is a one hundred sonnet love song.  Really, really not my cup of tea.

So why did I LOVE it?

I'd ask my new intern, but since she read it she has been softly weeping in the corner, sipping tea, and glaring at me.  I know what she is thinking.  She is thinking that if I don't rave about this book she will have to kill me.  She looks very serious about it.
She needn't worry,  No problem.  I would've raved without her menacing, unspoken threats.

I loved this book because it reminded me how powerful love is, how precious.  Meyer's gentle voice hits exactly the right note, again and again.  Honest and clear.


Just as I am woken by a passing plough
in the middle of the night, I open my eyes

in time to catch its flashing blue light
reflected on the bedroom wall, the engine

grunting, the scoop grating the street bed,
and my dreams are paved like the road

in destinations where I want to see the way ahead,
cleared for us, but that is not the world's way.

If I am lucky enough, the snows will clog
your route to work and we shall spend

the day together, housebound, your voice
filling the silence as if summer returned,

and to assure myself you are still near,
I shuffle my toe to touch your leg until you sigh.


Bruce Meyer is an accomplished and well published old pro.  These beautiful sonnets seem effortless but the discipline to sustain such a high, sweet note is remarkable.

Tenderness is too overlooked in our society and often mocked in poetry.  Bruce Meyer's The Seasons is a living, loving testament to tenderness.  One long whisper into a lover's ear.


Flannel leaves more to the imagination
than silks or satins against smooth skin.

It tells me that just as in all great art
the mind must be engaged in discovery,

that the curves of your body are uncharted
and my hands will trace my thoughts--

that when I close my eyes I see a goddess
hidden beneath your warm-skinned smile.

It is cold outside. The wind is howling.
It claws at the house and whines to come in.

It merely wants to be warm at last--
to slip its hand inside your button front

and dream of paradise and tropical light
as a navigator kisses land on his arrival.


It took me a while to read The Seasons because every time I teared up my glasses steamed.

Damn Bruce Meyer.


We are one soul built from a solemn vow,
a tree whose branches reach beyond us,

a place that maps cannot contain, existing
in both shadows and sunlight, the music

of wind that makes our lives speak the love
of life together growing brighter as we grow.

To be one is to offer shade to others on days
when sun bakes the earth and air lingers

waiting for a passing breath to give it voice.
To be one is to fill the air with life magnified

as a beacon standing tall across a harvest field
where the farmer has drawn out the soil's life

so others might be fed: and we shelter love
the way a tree guards a nest until hatchlings fly.


Where I expected formality these poems sounded warmly sage, Meyer never wavers.  These one hundred sonnets of love, in the tradition of Pablo Neruda's Cien sonetos de amor, sing of boundless love.

What a pleasure.

Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer is author of numerous books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, pedagogy, and literary journalism. His broadcasts on The Great Books became the CBC’s bestselling spoken-word audio series, and evolved into the national bestseller, The Golden Thread: A Reader’s Journey Through the Great Books. He is professor of English at Georgian College, and teaches for Laurentian University, Victoria College in the University of Toronto, and St. Michael’s College Continuing Education Program. He is the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Barrie, and lives in Barrie, Ontario with his wife and daughter.

"Bruce Meyer's latest collection, The Seasons, is an unabashed paean to human love and the invisible cords that bind a man and woman together. In a brave and passionate hundred sonnet sequence the poet's moving tribute to his wife navigates the vagaries of intimacy through the passage of the seasons. A work reminiscent of Neruda's hundred love poems, Meyers's words shine with sincerity and originality."
     James Clarke, author of The Kid from Simcoe Street

Bruce Meyer - Best Lecture  2010
Bruce Meyer discusses his poetry.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Waiting at the Dead End Diner - Rebecca Schumejda (Bottom Dog Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Waiting at the Dead End Diner.  Rebecca Schumejda.  Working Lives Series.  Bottom Dog Press.  Huron, Ohio.  2014.

I really don't know how to break this to Rebecca Schumejda, someone I do not know, but I am about to put the kiss of death on this book.  I like these poems more than oxygen.

These poems hit my heart and head at the same time, with a sledgehammer.

Rebecca Schumejda's Waiting at the Dead End Diner works for me as though John Steinbeck had set Grapes of Wrath in a diner and had Charles Bukowski help him write it.  Of course, for this scenario, they'd both have to be women.

No One Cares

No one cares what you think,  Rick screams
after I tell him that the coleslaw is spoiled.

He doesn't care it is tinted yellow and stinks;
he still scoops heaping piles onto plates.

Rick's been a fixture here for over a decade,
as permanent as grease accumulating

on kitchen walls.  Finally after two years,
he calls me by my real name instead of

Hey legs or Yo, college girl.  When I refuse to take
out the plate, he calls to Jolene, who he says

is Used to serving rotten merchandise, but
even she refuses--No way, Rick, you're gonna

kill someone.  Rick shrugs and says something
about population control before screaming

86 the coleslaw, thanks to these two twats
from the health department, and even though

he yells this, no one seems to have heard.


Every single one of you has been to a diner, some of us more than once.  My mother worked in places like this when I was a young boy.  I did dishes in a similar kitchen.  This all rings so true it could be a series on HBO - and I'd watch it.

Schumejda is not someone who pulls any punches and as a result Waiting at the Dead End Diner rollicks over the pages.  These poems sing and you can hear the grill sizzling and the grease popping, but more importantly you see that this canvas is the world writ large, reduced to human scale.  An opera with cooks, waitresses, customers and the ching of the cash register keeping time.

Degrees of Intelligence

Rochelle's Master's degree
in Art History landed her a
part-time job as a tour guide
at the state museum over
an hour and a half from
her house, $50,000 in debt,
and here at our counter
where she is trying to
figure out why the coffeemaker
won't stop even though
the pot underneath is full.

She panics, tries to
turn if off, looks around
for help.  Maggie swoops
in, pushes Rochelle aside,
grabs the half-empty pot
on the top burner,
pulls the full one out
and switches them.
Rochelle lets out a long
sight of relief, leans back
against the counter,
knocking over Eddie's
glass of water.


So the setting is a diner but of course it is a microcosm to illuminate the macrocosm, and can I get fries with that.

These poems are honest, pared down, clean.

Rebecca Schumejda sings a tune we will all recognize, these poems touch a familiar.

All in the Same Day

The day I can finally afford
a one-way plane ticket to Alaska,
Jolene tells me how she had
a threesome with her boyfriend Charlie
and the only waitress George
ever threatened to fire.
You know you can always join us,
she offers with a wink.

The same day, when a young boy
with Down's Syndrome comes in,
Maggie goes to the back and starts
crying.  She begs me to take
her tables.  She needs to leave
right now, but she'll be back.

After seeing Maggie break down,
Tommy tells me that he will
pay the bill for the boy's table.
Just tell them it's on the house,
he says.  When the little boy
orders pancakes, Sammy makes
a happy face with chocolate chips,
gives it a cherry nose,
and whip cream hair.

The same day, George's wife
wins fifty dollars on a scratch-off
lottery ticket; Kitty orders
the meatloaf special instead of
her usual, and Asif stops in to
tell me he just had to see me.

Toward the end of
her shift, Jolene passes
by me and says, I spilled
hot chocolate on my shoulder,
and tomato soup on my boob.
I can't wait to see what
gets splattered on my cooter.


Boy, I just flat out enjoyed these poems.  I loved the clarity and humour that seem to be Schumejda's natural fit.  These poems were touching and energetic, there aren't any forced moments but there is certainly tension.  Within the walls of this diner there are morality tales being played out on the small stage that speak to the humanity within us all.

Leave a big tip.

Rebecca Schumejda

"When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher asked the class to write poems and I eagerly complied. A few days later, my parents were called into a meeting at the school where my teacher, the principal, the vice-principal, and the social worker discussed how my assignment was unacceptable and how they were worried about my mental state. After reading the poem, my father sat there for what seemed like forever before he looked right at me and said, 'This is a great poem, Rebecca!' Then he looked at the teacher and said, 'Don't ask your students to write poetry if you don't want to hear their truths.' My father, a hard working roofer, has always been my inspiration."-Rebecca Schumejda

Rebecca Schumejda is the author of Cadillac Men (NYQ Books, 2012), Falling Forward, a full-length collections of poems (sunnyoutside, 2009); The Map of Our Garden (verve bath, 2009); Dream Big Work Harder (sunnyoutside press 2006); The Tear Duct of the Storm (Green Bean Press, 2001); and the poem "Logic" on a postcard (sunnyoutside). She received her MA in Poetics and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and her BA in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz.

"With a spot-on ear for dialogue and a solid feel for gestural nuance, Rebecca Schumejda sweeps us swiftly into the late-night chatter and dish clanking of the Dead End Diner.  In this collection, we meet a memorable cast of prickly though resilient characters who simultaneously shrink and expand under the high-pressure cooker of life.  Cinematic in its conception, I can't help but think of Robert Altman's Short Cuts, or some of Raymond Carver's best for that matter.  Waiting at the Dead End Diner is a deft exploration of the complicated forces embodied in gender, unreciprocated love, ethnic and religious stereotype and economic class, where participants dream big and live hard in the face of unflinching obstacles.  If I could purchase one meal at any hour, it would undoubtedly be Rebecca Schumejda's latest."
     Manuel Paul Lopez, author of The Yearning Feed

Rebecca Schumejda reads at the Howland Centre, N.Y.
Calling All Poets (CAP)


Monday, November 3, 2014

All Movies Love the Moon - Prose Poems on Silent Film - Gregory Robinson (Rose Metal Press)

Today's book of poetry:
All Movies Love the Moon - Prose Poems on Silent Film.  Gregory Robinson.  Rose Metal Press.  Brookline, MA.  2014.

Reading All Movies Love the Moon is a bombastic pleasure.  Gregory Robinson is here to translate the light between the projector and the screen.  No small trick.

Silent movies provide a launching board for his beautiful madness but I suspect Robinson could add glee to any subject he wanted to play with.

There are forgotten stills from movies, the text cards from silent films, all sorts of amusing distractions and associations to play havoc.  It works so well.

These loosely connected prose poems are about film and they're not.  What they definitely are - is riotously entertaining, engaging and even sometimes illuminating.

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

This is for you. The ushers in Civil War garb, for you. The rows of red velvet cushions,
crafted for girdled backs and porcelain bottoms, for you. The Birth--a new history formed
because you did not like the first one--for you.

A plea. We do not fear censorship, and we demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark
side of wrong, so we might illuminate the bright side of virtue.

We demand it with our hands.

In the quarters of the Majestic, the best boy first saw light under his sheets and found it
was his own:  thin beams streaming from his palms like light shooting through a pinhole.
All over the studio lot, workers woke to the same stigmata, the gaffers, the cutters, the key
scenics, and the set designers, waking, wondering, keeping their arms outstretched as if
they held fire and wiggling their glowing fingertips as though ready to ascend.

The beams grew stronger by salary and status.  The cinematographer:  a policeman's
flashlight.  The director of photography:  the light on a freighter's mast.

Just off the lot, still under the storm of luminance, D.W. left a dream to find his palms gone
supernova.  He reached for his wife in the adjacent bed and cut her in half, along with the
wall behind her and the foundation of a neighboring house.

This is the product of those hands, all for you.  This palace built for no other purpose, this birth,
a world rewritten with lightning, the bright side of virtue slashing the old world to streamers.


Robinson is one of those freaky jugglers who can get comedy, drama, the history of cinema and the history of the world, all into the air at once.  Although it is also abundantly clear he might be a bit of a liar as well.  A magnificent and eloquent liar.  Often times the truth is far less interesting and Robinson seems to take comfort in that.

Today's book of poetry did a straw-poll in the office this morning.  Hands down, this is the book that has made us laugh most in recent memory.

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916)

The mystery is what they see wide-eyed in the post-dart instant when their world is
overshot, when the prospect of a nymph is replaced by searing yellow light and a clamping
of lungs.

In those blurred snapshots, almost unrecognizable:  Fairbanks in a fish floatie, pretending
he's Sherlock Holmes.  Splash!  Browning undressing a flapper with his eyes.  Plunk!  Griffith
sunning himself.  Pop!  In some ridiculous outfit, absurd even to a fish.  Swish!  Then the cold,
the blue, the slick slide of water and scale.

The mystery is if we would realize if we did the same;  broke through, experienced some
other world in shards.  The mystery is where the fish go that we cannot.


I have loved movies since I was a kid.  Really loved them.  Worked as an usher in both of my home town movie theaters.  Worked as a projectionist when I was first in university studying English and Cultural Studies.  When I finally went back to university a few years ago I did a degree in English and Film.  I love movies.

Anyone who has ever loved a movie will love this book.

The real kicker is that an argument could be made that most of the poems have nothing to do with film but instead use celluloid to launch the fevered reason of Gregory Robinson.  Either way, win/win.

Secrets of a Soul (1926)

Nine out of 10 men do not want to get jacked up on coke then sleep with their moms.  One
out of 10 does, and that is why there are movies.

Psychoanalysis has nothing to do with coke or mom-banging.  Sorry,  It might be more fun if
it did.  Forgotten to most is the all-out wonder of a boy who sees a path and believes it never-
before discovered.  Imagine Sigmund saying Come with me, I have unlocked the secret of dreams.

What you want you cannot have and that makes you want it more.  And what you want is not
what you think.  Dreams, Sigmund said, are not stories at all, even the ones where you talk to chipmunks who tell you to kill.  Not stories at all, but hieroglyphs, some ancient self communicating to you in modernist verse.  You do not have to understand it.  You just have to say it.  Again and
again you say it because that is what your wants want, for you to acknowledge that you are
one giant factory of the absurd.

The secret of your soul is that you are a mess trying to pull it all together, boxing multitudes
into a single home.  Sigmund dreamed himself an explorer of this Borgesian structure,
where he could follow winding halls and spiral steps leading nowhere, and claim the last
undiscovered territory as his own.

"for you to acknowledge that you are one giant factory of the absurd"

Ya, we here at Today's book of poetry couldn't get enough of Gregory Robinson or his excellent All Movies Love the Moon.

Gregory Robinson

Gregory Robinson lives in Boulder City, Nevada with his wife Joan and his dog BinBin. He is currently Chair of the Humanities Department at Nevada State College. When he is not writing, he is hiking around the desert, doing iaido, or (of course) watching movies. Visit his website here.

“What an intriguing amalgam of genres Gregory Robinson has created in his All Movies Love the Moon. Part silent film history, part poetic romp, this fine collection recalls the work of the great Uruguayan poet/historian Eduardo Galeano, author of Memory of Fire. Rich rewards await as you step into the dark rooms of these poems that flicker by ever so beautifully at 16 frames per second.”
—David Shumate, author of Kimonos in the Closet

“All Movies Love the Moon, with its salute to Georges Méliès, is somewhat like the visionary himself: mischievous, innovative, enigmatic, witty, and captivating. Robinson’s book is a beautiful hybridization of film history and poetic journey. Roaming through the celluloid cemetery of silent films, Robinson becomes a Dr. Frankenstein as he reconstitutes pre-existing material into new forms: he is both alchemist and ‘cinematic recycler.’ This book has the noteworthy skill of persuading the reader to revisit it immediately, while concurrently enticing the reader to (re)see the films it so lovingly pays tribute to. Pour a glass of wine, settle in, and be transported.”
—Simone Muench, author of Wolf Centos

“In the eighteenth century Laurence Sterne broke all the rules of novel-writing that hadn’t yet been written with Tristram Shandy. In 2013 Gregory Robinson’s All Movies Love the Moon travels back in time to the dawn of cinema, when silent movies were as surreal, playful, dislocating, and dumbfounding as the twentieth century itself. In deadpan prose poems Robinson tracks the gradual emergence of narrative out of the dream logic of pure images, and the more sudden birth of pop culture as we know it, until we see Theda Bara and Sylvester Stallone silently side by side at last. The poetry in film, the film in poetry: the book is a delirious romp through the grammar of their entanglement. Or as Robinson puts it, ‘Any great detective will tell you the trick is not walking into movies but finding the way out again.’”
—Joshua Corey, author of Beautiful Soul: An American Elegy

“Gregory Robinson’s All Movies Love the Moon brings silent film, that drowned and nearly forgotten continent, back to life and into our time. From the hand-colored fantasy of Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon to Hitchcock’s chilling thrillerThe Lodger, each of these prose poems is a movie—one filled with the sheer joy we take in watching as the projector’s light illuminates the darkness.”
—Jesse Lee Kercheval, author of Cinema Muto and My Life as a Silent Movie

“All Movies Love the Moon is as much the autobiography of a cinéaste as a history of silent film and the linguistic windows through which it makes meaning. Interspersed with real and invented intertitles to guide us through his poetic underworld, Gregory Robinson's prose poems conduct a cinematic séance in which an array of personal and celluloid spirits parade before the reader. Inquiry gives way to elegy both historical and personal, and the book's great trick is ‘to bend trust without breaking it, to lead by the hand rather than by the wrist’ as Robinson guides us gradually into the imaginative space between words on a screen. Robinson sees the irony in nostalgia for those days before film was given voice, but if we are not tempted by his ‘Vertov Kino app, which makes the iPhone weigh 40 pounds and replaces the battery with a wooden crank,’ then, reader, we are the cranks.”
—Amaranth Borsuk, author of Handiwork

All Movies Love the Moon - trailer